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LHDA says working to resolve grievances



MASERU – THE Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) says it is aware of an array of grievances, particularly compensation, raised by communities affected by power projects in their area.
Speaking at an editors’ forum yesterday in Maseru, Mahase Thokoa, a senior manager at LHDA, said the authority was working on addressing the grievances.
Communities in affected areas have been up in arms with the LHDA over compensation and also have lodged cases with the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Office of the Ombudsman had earlier told thepost that it was struggling in its efforts to help the affected communities to get compensation because of high turnover of staff dealing with compensation issues at the LHDA.
New officers in the office say they are yet to study the cases lodged against the LHDA.
On Wednesday, the LHDA threshed out the grievances.
Thokoa, the LHDA Social Development and Environmental Divisional Manager, said the authority is dealing with internal and external issues that delay the issuance of compensation to the aggrieved parties.
Thokoa told the forum that the authority has its own way of calculating compensation owed to affected families.
The LHDA operates in the highlands of the country, where land is a basic survival need due to high dependency on agriculture.

He said after every five years, officials from the LHDA visit the relocated families to asses if they are still able to sustain their livelihoods in their new homes.
Thokoa said before relocation, families are assisted with projects to help them earn a living.
Such projects include knitting, poultry and other farming methods.
But such projects in the LHDA Phase One have all collapsed, leaving the affected communities struggling to eke out a living.

He said their aim is to offer sustainable livelihoods for the affected communities.
He said family disputes also contribute significantly to delays in processing compensation for affected families while in some cases, beneficiaries in some families are unavailable.
He said some relocated communities want to be compensated for life and do not want to share the fruits of their compensation with host communities in areas they would have been moved.
He said relocated communities also complain of lack of resources such as land and other natural resources in their new environs.

Wetlands, which are sources of water, are threatened by bad grazing habits by the communities, said Thokoa.
Regarding the internal issues, Thokoa said the LHDA has a problem with document control.
To mitigate the problems, the LHDA is now working with a consultant while the Department of Water has also been roped in to address the threat to wetlands.
The LHDA Chief Executive Officer Refiloe Tlali said it is expected that when the project phases out, relevant bodies have to maintain the infrastructure. For example, the Roads Department has to take care of the road network while the Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) has to maintain the electricity lines.
LHDA generates 72 megawatts of energy against a national demand of 150 megawatts, forcing the country to import the shortfall.

Majara Molupe


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